Indianapolis: Harvick vs. Sadler, Biffle vs. McMurray. Pocono: Harvick vs. McMurray, Biffle vs. Sadler. Watkins Glen: Harvick vs. Biffle, McMurray vs. Sadler.
Wouldn't it be great if Harvick went after Biffle after the two bang fenders going for the NASCAR World Cup Group F win? Harvick shouldn't have any trouble winning the group and the real battle should be between Biffle and McMurray for second. Whoever does better at Indy will have the advantage and that may make McMurray the slight favorite for second. There's no restrictor plate track in group play, so Sadler has no chance unless carnage strikes all three of his opponents when he's racing against them.
Jay's Picks: Winner: Kevin Harvick — Happy is owning the track these days, and head-to-head he's sharper than anybody in the group right now. I think he'll put enough distance on the field that even a rough weekend at Watkins Glen won't hurt his chances of advancing.
To Advance: Greg Biffle — Like Kenseth, Biffle has been reliable but uninspiring this year. McMurray has had more flash at times, but it's Biffle who's putting up the single-digit numbers on a more reliable basis. You can expect McMurray to take himself out of at least one race, and in a three-race format, well...that ain't good.
Nick's Picks: Winner: Kevin Harvick — There's a chance that Harvick and the No. 29 team could be experimenting for the Chase, but there aren't any tracks in the Chase that are similar to the three in the group stage, so if the Shell/Pennzoil team sticks to the formula that got them to the top of the points standings in the first place, there's no reason he won't win the group.
To Advance: Jamie McMurray — I went back and forth on this one four or five times and finally settled on McMurray, not because of Indianapolis, but rather Watkins Glen. McMurray has shown to be a pretty good road racer, and while Biffle is no slouch himself, he's facing Harvick while McMurray has Elliott Sadler.